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Mexico get their second victory of CONCACAF U-20 Championship after cruising past Saint Martin

Mexico beat Saint Martin 4-0 to remain top of their group

Mexico and Saint Martin stand for their national anthems before their U20 Match
Rafael Hernandez

After a great first half and a less inspiring second half, Mexico won their second straight victory after defeating Saint Martin 4-0. With an almost completely different team than the one that started against Nicaragua because of the one day rest, Mexico took advantage of Saint Martin’s terrible set piece defending to take a 3-0 lead at the half. The lead then increased to 4-0 early butMexico’s lack of accuracy in shooting, as well as Saint Martin sitting back because of exhaustion, caused Mexico to have their weakest play so far in the tournament. Even star Diego Lainez failed to light the team up, although he made some of the best offensive plays in the half and forced the Saint Martin keeper to two great saves. Mexico will now play Jamaica on Tuesday on what should be the toughest and most important match of the Group stages.

After crushing Nicaragua, Mexico faced one of the weaker teams of the group in Saint Martin. The big question for Mexico was how it would cope with playing a game with so little time, and only captain Gilberto Sepulveda and Jose Juan Macias repeated in the starting lineup from the Nicaragua game.

The moves didn’t seem to hamper Mexico early as once again they took a very early lead. After a free kick, Saint Martin showed their terrible set-piece defending and left Gilberto Sepulveda wide open to head in a goal and open the scoring.

Mexico took complete control of the game, with a Saint Martin that wasn’t pressuring like Nicaragua did and allowing Mexico more time with the ball. It was only Mexico’s lack of accuracy from set-pieces that stopped them from scoring more goals.

But finally off a corner kick, Jose Juan Macias was able to head the ball and it slipped through the hands of the keeper for the 2-0.

The game continued with Mexico dominating and Saint Martin holding on for dear life, which they did mostly because their center backs were able to clear the low crosses. However, it was a different story from corner kicks, and they would pay the price once again. This time, Sepulveda scored his second when he was left wide open off a corner kick to head in the 3-0. Mexico went into halftime with the 3-0 lead.

In the second half, Mexico came out firing when Edgar Lopez went through and placed it past the keeper for the 4-0. After the goal, Mexico kept pushing for a fifth goal but Saint Martin started sitting back much more efficiently and Mexico started to struggle with several of the players who came into the staring lineup.

A hit in the head to Cruz Azul’s Misael Dominguez (who missed friday’s game because of his performance for Cruz Azul in the Copa MX Final) had the team down to 10 players for a while, a time that Saint Martin took to make their only opportunity for a goal after a shot from a rebound for a corner kick fell to a Saint Martin defender.

Looking to spice up the attack, coach Diego Ramirez sent Diego Lainez for Macias, but what Mexico gained in the wings, they lost in the attack without Macias. Lainez, though, made some good individual plays that forced the Saint Martin goalkeeper, Nashon Questel, to make a couple of great stops.

Mexico continued to dominate but the players left didn’t have and accurate day in shots and the scored remained 4-0.

While Mexico had a big drop in level of play in the second half, the important thing for the team is that Mexico won and didn’t need to push themselves much either. Now the main rival will be faced on Tuesday when they play Jamaica. Most of the main team will be rested for that game against Jamaica, who also have to win but like Mexico struggled against their supposed weaker rival and even needed a late goal to defeat Grenada 1-0 in their opener. That said, Jamaica will be a tough rival in a match that will likely decide who wins the group and gets the solo ticket to the second round.